We were led to a small native village and given rice, of which we were to get awfully sick of eating before our journey was over.
I knew we were in the ---- River Valley and I also knew from our intelligence that there was a family of American missionaries at a certain place on this river north of where we were. We left this first village and started a sliding descent down the mountain to the river. After three hours rain and descent, we reached a village at the bottom of the valley. The natives killed a chicken and cooked it with rice. It was dark in the shanty when we started eating and when I picked my first piece of chicken out of the pot I did not find out it was the head of the bird until I had it half eaten - gulp - enough to eat for that night!
The next morning a native gave us a note written in English by the American missionaries. The note told us just where we were and how to get to their home five days north of where we were. When I speak of "days" I mean walking days, because walking it was the only means of transportation.
Before we had walked an hour, we were all tired out. The trails led practically straight up and down 9,000 and 10,000 foot ridges. It was really exhausting. We finished the day okay and were nibbling at chocolate ration bars when a young white man 23 years old walked in. He was one of the family of missionaries and said he happened to be in this southern section of the valley distributing notes just like the one we received. Naturally we were overjoyed to see him. He told us if we had bailed out two minutes earlier or later, we would have landed on snow peaks inaccessible to humans and there would have been no escape. He said these natives in this village were friendly now, but 10 years ago we would have lost our heads.
It turned awfully cold and all we had to eat was rice and chicken, but we got along okay. We slept in our parachutes and hardly any of us could sleep because of the cold and the numerous fleas.
We started our journey to his home and all of it was strictly mountain climbing. Once I lost my footing and nearly had a fall of 500 feet into the rapids below, but I grabbed a piece of bush until they pulled me up. We finally reached his mission home after five days arduous walking, and found a house built of bamboo and the regular Chinese type architecture. It was relatively comfortable after the native homes we had slept in.
From that day to April 21 we tried signaling planes. We finally attracted one's attention, and the next day we received 14 days' supply of food and some blankets and mail. We received clothing or shoes or money, however, and the ship said it would be back the next day. The following day was closed in and every day until May 28 was soupy weather, so we saw no planes.
We had run almost out of food by that time, and since the snow on the mountains had hardened sufficiently to cross, we started our walk from China to cross northern Burma to an advanced air base near the border.
We had purchased 100 pounds of rice and six chickens and 32 eggs, so, led by two of the missionaries, the six of us started. The walking was really rough, up and down all the time. The fifth day we started across the range of 16,000-foot mountains to Northern Burma. We were to cross through a 12,000-foot pass. After a three-hour walk through knee-deep water in driving rain we started up the slope. Soon the grade of the slope reached an angle of 20 degrees and we could no longer climb, so we had a native go ahead of us and cut foot-holds in the snow with his knife. Our clothes by this time had frozen stiff on us from the severe cold. After a torturous climb we reached the top and, unable to rest because of the cold, started looking for the trail on the other side.
It was then that we entered the most dangerous part of our trip. We discovered we had climbed the wrong pass and we were lost. The carriers who were carrying our loads of rice and blankets, and who wore scanty shirts and pants and no shoes, threatened to leave the loads up on the hill and wander off. One carrier was brought back at the point of a gun and the rest of them were just standing in a group mumbling.
(Continued next week)